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Clippers defeat the Spurs, 106-101, but lose Chris Paul to injury

Clippers defeat the Spurs, 106-101, but lose Chris Paul to injury
Clippers guard Chris Paul leaves a game against the Spurs in the third quarter with a hamstring injury on Dec. 22. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Chris Paul suffered a left hamstring strain late in the third quarter and never returned in a game the Clippers won, 106-101, over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Reserves Raymond Felton, Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson, Marreese Speights and Jamal Crawford controlled the fourth quarter and were a big reason why the Clippers snapped the Spurs’ five-game winning streak.

That group played the entire fourth quarter and made sure the Spurs didn't overcome a 14-point lead the Clippers built in the first half.

The Clippers have defeated the Spurs both times the teams have played this season.

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Paul went to the Clippers' locker room with four minutes 33 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Clippers sent out a report that Paul's return was questionable and that proved to be the case.

"I'm OK," Paul said after the game. "I had just tweaked my hamstring a little bit. Obviously this has happened before so I'm glad I caught it when I did."

That meant the Clippers were down another big star, Paul joining Blake Griffin, who is expected to be out three to six weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday.

Paul left having scored 19 points, with six rebounds and six assists.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Paul was day to day. “I saw it right when it happened,” Rivers said. “We got him out right away.”

Felton replaced Paul in the third and came up big in the fourth.

Felton had seven of his 13 points in the fourth on nifty drives to the basket. He was six for nine from the field.

Speights had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes.

"We have a deep talented team," Paul said. "When a guy is down, like we've been saying, we have guys that are more than capable of stepping up and doing there job."

Before the game, Doc Rivers talked about his team's need to play at a fast pace against the Spurs.

If the Clippers didn’t, Rivers was concerned that San Antonio’s big lineup of 7-foot Paul Gasol, 6-11 LaMarcus Aldridge and 6-7 Kawhi Leonard would overpower his smallish team that was now starting 6-7 Paul Pierce at forward in place of Griffin.

"You cannot play a slow pace against them," Rivers said during his pre-game media session.

"Then they can get their hands on us. They're bigger, so we have to play at a great pace tonight, up and down the floor, attacking the paint. I think that's our only chance."

The Clippers didn't play with a lightning pace, but they played just fast enough to build a 57-45 halftime lead.

Paul took the controls for the Clippers, scoring 13 first-half points.

J.J. Redick started strong, scoring all nine of his first-half points in the first quarter. And it was all on three-pointers, as Redick made three of four.

DeAndre Jordan had the play of the first half in scoring eight points.

Jordan rolled to the basket and took a pass from Paul and threw down a vicious right-handed dunk right in the face of Pau Gasol.

The crowd was sent into a frenzy over the highlight-reel play and Jordan's teammates leaped off the bench after a time out had been called in the first quarter.

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner

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